Jade Regehr from the Rocky Mountain Freeriders competes in the Female 15-18 division. She’s pictured with starterClaire Smallwood from SheJumps and assistant starter and Olympian, Janina Kuzma. Photo courtesy of Fernie Alpine Resort

Extreme cold mars Fernie youth ski competition

Fernie Jeep Junior Freeski finals cancelled amid extreme cold warning; local skiers excel in heats

Extreme weather conditions have marred an annual youth freeskiing competition at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR).

Ninety-five young skiers travelled from as far as Alaska to showcase their skills at the Fernie Jeep Junior Freeski regional competition presented by Rossignol and Smith Optics.

The International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association-registered event was open to skiers aged 7-18 and held at Big Bang, an advanced run in Timber Bowl at FAR.

They enjoyed excellent conditions for the qualifying runs on Saturday, February 2 after 32cm of snow overnight and were cheered on by hundreds of skiers, and snowboarders waiting to load White Pass chair.

On Sunday, February 3, extreme wind chill forced FAR to cancel the finals amid safety concerns for competitors and officials.

The resort also closed high elevation chairlifts and cancelled all lessons. Environment Canada later issued an extreme cold warning for the Elk Valley with wind chill values below -35C expected that night.

LOOK BACK: Extreme cold warning issued for Elk Valley

FAR Marketing Manager Karen Pepper said weather aside, the freeski competition was well received, selling out weeks in advance.

“We had a wait list of approximately 10 and all had the opportunity to enter the comp due to cancellations,” she said.

“We received some good snowfall overnight, so conditions on Big Bang were good for the event.”

Saturday’s results used to rank skiers who were judged by Jeff Holden, Luke Nelson and Sam Woodward.

Fernie skiers placed in all but one category.

In the Ski Female U12, it was a triple Fernie podium with Taylor Witbeck placing first followed by Riley Prentice and Nell Cline Smith.

Evie Gadd and Charlie Leckenby took second and third in the Ski Female 12-14, while Gavin and Tanner Hewitt tied for third in the Ski Male 12-14.

Claire McPherson won the Ski Female 15-18 and Josh Hebert placed second in the Ski Male 15-18.

Other competitors travelled from Alyeska, Alaska, and Missoula, Montana, as well as Calgary, Kimberley, Golden, Lake Louise, Pincher Creek, Whistler and Rossland.

To view the full results, visit Skifernie.com.


The Male 12-14 winners - 1st Bodhi Kuhn, 2nd Ryan Hennig, equal 3rd Gavin Hewitt and Tanner Hewitt, and 4th Patryk Bendkowski. Photo courtesy of Fernie Alpine Resort

Nell Cline Smith (3rd Female Under 12) with head judge Jeff Holden. Photo courtesy of Fernie Alpine Resort

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